Reflections from the 2016-17 Dancing While Black Fellows
The Dancing While Black 2016-17 Fellowship brought together seven emerging Black Women choreographers who spent seven months building community through workshops with master teachers, communal dinners and a public discussion at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Get to know the Fellows and their visions for this collaborative journey:
“The collective nature of Dancing While Black really resonates for me. From the fellowship’s multi-formatted approach to the inter-generational community, it all helps re-calibrate our focus from dance as an outcome to dance as a network relationships– more in touch with the possibilities of the WE.“
Katrina Reid is a performing artist currently interested in creating movement from writing — be it song, poem or other text to research and mine responses to words and how they might create emotive, physical landscapes.
photo by Peter Born
photo by Melisa Cardona
“I am seeking clarity, community, and a time to focus on my solo practice.
This opportunity to work with like-minded individuals within the context of Dancing While Black – and the specificity of that particular idea – really allowed me to ask some very pressing questions, while at the same time, giving me space to attempt to answer them.
It’s been exciting to witness the magic and alchemy that is created within the group.”
Maritza Mercado-Narcisse is a performer, choreographer, educator, mother and wife based in New Orleans, LA.
“I’ve trained in predominantly White spaces within a White aesthetic. This Dancing While Black Fellowship feels like a curious and courageous home.
I feel seen in ways that moves beyond my skin color and shape of my body.“
Melanie Greene is a movement artist swirling along the edges of the impossible and swimming in the sea of the minority. As a southern belle transplant, she is delighted to leave spaces drenched in racist rhetoric masked as religious ideals, but will gladly keep biscuits, country ham, and collard greens.
photo by Ian Douglas
photo by Julia Wang
“The DWB Fellowship is a space to hear ‘me too’, to be in a safe circle of other black women artist committed to freedom, to offer my hands, to exchange books from black writers, to practice our rituals together, to laugh, cry, challenge, celebrate and dance together, to expand my (our) voice.
‘Dancing While Black’ invites myself and my fellow brothers and sistars to be together in our vastness without apology!
I’m excited every time I’m in the room with these beautiful women! To hear our stories has been powerful, to break bread together has been reviving and to envision together about the ripples we will make as we continue to move forward has been a blessing. I’m forever grateful for this circle.“
Jaimé Dzandu is a movement artist, choreographer, educator and community arts practitioner from Hampton, VA.Her ritual choreographic work reflects the sacred in performance and investigates, nature, black womanhood, healing and transformation.
“I am most drawn to DWB’s focus on creating space across regions for the connection of emerging artists of color whose work integrate art and social change. As an artist in New Orleans, it is challenging to navigate the competitive performing arts industry without support. I am so grateful of this amazing opportunity to build relationships and create a network of support for each other.
I am most excited about the future possibilities of continued support, visibility and longevity resulting from the creation of a solid network of black choreographers.”
Kesha McKey is a choreographer, educator and performing artist in NOLA receiving her BS from Xavier University and her MFA in dance from UW-Milwaukee. She is the Artistic Director of KM Dance Project, a dance educator at NOCCA and Program Coordinator of the Kuumba Institute at Ashé CAC.
photo by Melisa Cardona
“I am most excited to share space with the inspiring, brilliant, risk-taking artists of this year’s DWB cohort, whose encouragement support an environment that nurtures exploration for new modes of choreographic investigation.”
Joya Powell is an award-winning choreographer and educator passionate about community, activism, and dances of the African Diaspora. Her company, Movement of the People, has performed recently at BAM, BAAD!, The Bronx Museum of Arts, and Dixon Place.
“As a black womanist, a ride or die freedom fighter, and art maker, I believe the Dancing While Black platform radically centers, uplifts, and creates space for black artists to dive boldly into our creative process with support, endless love, and in community.”“
Brittany Williams is an international artist originally from Florida City who has worked and traveled in the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. Brittany was a part of Dancing While Black: On Fertile Ground in New Orleans last year, where she co-choreographed and performed a duet titled Womb Truth. In 2016 she received a Brooklyn Arts Exchange Fall Space Grant.